This week’s flash fiction challenge from Chuck Wendig involves a random cocktail generator and 1000 words of pure imagination. I got the Cosmo Katie, and took it to a dark place. I mean, space is pretty dark most of the time, right? Enjoy.
Sometimes you really want to cut loose, you know?
This wasn’t one of those times. I had never wanted more desperately to cling to something big and strong and firmly attached to the space station. It turns out that those dramatic moments in movies, you know, the ones where you know things will be okay because someone was falling but now someone else is grabbing their hand, are actually scary enough to make you shit when it happens in real life. As in literally make you shit your space suit. I would be perfectly alright if this never ever happened again, and I spent the rest of my life bundled up in restraining straps or something.
The real problem, of course, is that the man whose hand I’m currently holding onto for dear life is the same douchebag who, I’m pretty sure though I might not be able to prove it, sabotaged my safety cable in the first place. He is not the big and strong thing, firmly attached to the space station, that I want to be holding onto right now. I’d be perfectly happy with a support strut for one of the solar arrays. But as they say, beggars can’t be choosers, even when that means they have to hold onto the despicable fucker who put them in the position of having to beg in the first place. God I hate Brett.
“Don’t worry Katie,” I can practically hear Brett’s heroic smile over the comm, “I’ve got you.”
There are quiet mutters of relief from the operator in the command room, totally breaking com discipline. The gain is high enough that I can hear a few of the gasps from other people who’ve crowded into command to watch my stupid drama unfold.
I force myself to sound chipper, and like I totally didn’t just shit myself in fear. “Roger that Brett. Standby to receive a fresh tether.” Nobody wants to go Flying Dutchman up here.
Brett accepts my tether, now that he’s had a chance to play the hero, and we continue with the spacewalk. Nothing else interesting happens. Thank God.
I’m pretty sure Brett thinks he’s the heroic lead in a show, probably one called Brett In Space: The Adventures Of One Hot Hunk Of An Astronaut. The man almost certainly thinks in italics. He operates on the assumption that this is some kind of delusional fantasy world, and if our world doesn’t serve up the excitement he knows he deserves, he makes some himself. By doing things like cutting through the safety bolt on the end of my tether, for example, and then being there to save me when everything goes wrong.
I don’t think he really thought his last act through though, because I didn’t lose my end of the broken tether. And I certainly didn’t let him take it when we were stripping down after reentry into the hab. I don’t think he even realized that I hid it. Going to the head so that I could scrub off the remains of my terror gave me a pretty good opportunity.
Of course, it’s one thing to suspect your fellow space-man of sabotaging you just to fulfill his perverse need to be seen as the center of heroic drama, but it’s another to find out that you were right. The bolt was sheared straight through, weakened with a cutter and then snapped; a cutter like the one that Brett had pulled out of inventory specifically for the repairs we had to do on that walk.
I can’t exactly tell my crewmates about this. They all love Brett. He’s everyone’s favorite, always smiling and hamming it up for them. They don’t realize that he’s just performing for them, for the people that he thinks are watching. The man is certifiably, dangerously insane. I am so screwed.
Everything has taken a turn for the worse. The woman that Brett thought he was in love with, Evelyn, just died. I think he killed her. He spent her last few hours talking with her, tears oozing from his face and floating all around the rest of the compartment.
She was on a walk, just routine maintenance stuff, when something went wrong with her thruster. It wouldn’t stop firing, and she started drifting away from the station. He was on the comm the whole time, walking her through a fix. He sounded perfect. She finally found the problem when it was too late. There was a single contact that had been stuck in the on position inside the control system. It must have, in her words, “just been waiting to happen, waiting for the sequence of inputs I used to get into position today.” At that point she was beyond retrieval range for any of us, without the fuel she needed to rematch velocity when we came around again. She was just waiting to die, and Brett just kept talking to her the whole time, like it was some kind of soap opera and they were the main love interests.
This has to stop. I have to do something.
It’s funny, really, how easy it is to shear through a tether’s safety bolt when you have the right tools. I guess they didn’t think that anyone would want to do that. Brett certainly wasn’t expecting it.
I wasn’t next to him when the tether separated. I wasn’t quite fast enough to give him a line. I watched in horror as his suit sustained multiple deep tears as he impacted the debris that we were working to clear from the station’s orbit, and we had a deep and heartfelt conversation as he depressurized. It was moving, and emotional, and meaningful. Just what he’d always wanted. We mobilized a rescue crew to retrieve him, but they didn’t quite make it in time to save his life. I gave one hell of a convincing performance.
What can I say, I had a good teacher. Fuck you, Brett.